The Independence Opera House was recently awarded a $200,000 Oregon Main Street Revitalization grant to renovate and rehabilitate the upstairs of the historic building into 4 unit apartments. Theodore “Ted” Baker owns the opera house and envisions a new future for the space.


“I think it could really be a model for mixed-use historic buildings,” said Ted. “In an 11,000-square-foot building, there are lots of uses.”


With over 50 percent of the building in need of renovation, this project will adhere to historic building standards while refreshing the first floor into office/retail space.

The Space

The first floor is approximately 2,700 square ft, and the 2nd-floor apartment space is approximately 5,200 square ft which will configure into 4 units with 5 bedrooms, 16 ft high ceilings, and an additional multi-use loft space. Renovation and improvements will also be made to the historic façade, improving the aesthetics of the block. Local cornerstone restaurant Silk Thai Cuisine, which currently resides in the other half of the opera house building, will remain unaffected by the improvements.


With guidance from the United States Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties Baker will retain as much of the original upstairs open floor plan as possible. Therefore, two of the apartments will be much larger units and the other two will be more moderate in size.


While receiving the grant is exciting, contributing to the vitality of historic downtowns is Ted’s true passion.


Theodore Baker

Theodore “Ted” Baker, Independence Opera House owner

“It’s really important to have residential downtown in historic buildings,” shared Baker. “People living here are the lifeblood of the downtown.”


History of the Opera House


Originally built in 1888, the opera house had two retail spaces on the bottom floor and a dancing/meeting space upstairs. The two retail outlets were a drug store and a general store. In the 1960s, the two retail spaces were combined and turned into a Western Auto Supply Company. Some artifacts of previous tenants remain in the upstairs space which Baker plans to display once the building is finished.


After Baker bought the building, he put the original dividing wall back in, restoring it to its original structure. Additionally, he recreated the storefront to its original look.


Independence’s Vision 2020 Action Plan identified restoring downtown buildings as a key goal for the community. Further, it recommended focusing restoration efforts on the opera house specifically as one of four buildings with the greatest impact on the downtown’s historic character.


“I just like the transformation,” shared Baker. “Having that connection with something people worked on a hundred years ago just resonates with me.”


Independence Opera House

Independence Opera House upstairs

What’s Next?

The downstairs office space is ready for new tenants after a brief refresh mentioned Baker, while the upstairs apartments are expected to open in another two years.


“When it’s all done, I think it’s going to be really special,” said Baker.


The city of Independence looks forward to the completion of this project and the continued renewal of our vibrant downtown.